The Heisman Trophy is an achievement that echoes through the halls of college football history with a resonance unlike any other. Established in 1935, it is the highest individual honor a college football player can earn.
Annually awarded to the most outstanding player who exhibits integrity, diligence, and exceptional ability, the Heisman transcends the realm of mere sportsmanship, personifying excellence in collegiate athletics. From Jayberwanger to Tim Tebow and Joe Burrow, each season this trophy recognizes the very best of the best.
As December comes around, anticipation swells as fans across the nation eagerly await the announcement of the new Heisman winner. This article will delve deeper into the vibrant Heisman Award, spotlighting the teams that have seen their players’ names called the most.
Southern California — 7
The USC Trojans have had seven Heisman winners, although it would be eight if you count Reggie Bush’s 2005 trophy, which was later taken away after it was discovered he violated NCAA rules.
USC’s Heisman chronicle began with a crop of talented running backs. First, it was Mike Garrett in 1965, soon followed by the legendary O. J. Simpson in 1968. The next decade saw another running back winner, Charles White, in 1979. Southern Cal’s Heisman tradition continued in 1981 when Marcus Allen became the first USC player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season, earning him the coveted trophy.
The Trojans’ Heisman legacy then took a quarterback turn, with Carson Palmer in 2002 and Matt Leinart in 2004. Most recently, Caleb Williams joined this elite group in 2022, and he hopes to win the school’s eighth title by repeating in 2023.
Ohio State — 7
The Buckeyes boast an impressive seven Heisman winners in their storied history. This tally began in 1944 with Les Horvath and was then followed by Vic Janowicz in 1950 and Howard Cassady in 1955. However, the crown jewel of Ohio’s Heisman legacy is undoubtedly Archie Griffin.
In 1974 and 1975, Griffin achieved an unmatched feat by becoming the first and only player ever to win the prestigious Heisman twice. At a compact 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Griffin was an unstoppable force on the field, leading the Buckeyes to a 40-5-1 record and four Big Ten titles during his four-year tenure as starting tailback.
Other notable winners include Eddie George in 1995 and Troy Smith in 2006. The Buckeyes have been in contention for an eighth trophy, with C.J. Stroud and Justin Fields both finishing in the top-5 the last five years. This year, they hope Marvin Harrison Jr. can earn the school another award.
Oklahoma — 7
Sharing the top spot with Ohio State and USC, the Sooners have a history equally steeped in Heisman glory, with seven players winning. The Sooners’ Heisman journey started in 1952 with Billy Vessels, followed by Steve Owens’ triumph in 1969 and Billy Sims’ victory in 1978.
The 21st century saw a surge of Oklahoma Heisman recipients, beginning with Jason White in 2003 and Sam Bradford in 2008. The torch was then passed to Baker Mayfield in 2017, who put up a stellar performance, throwing for a whopping 4,340 yards with 41 touchdowns and steering the Sooners to the College Football Playoff.
Following in his footsteps was Kyler Murray in 2018, who, despite the looming comparison, delivered a near-identical season, leading the Sooners to a 12-1 record and yet another playoff berth. The Sooners are in the running for an eighth award this year, with Dillon Gabriel getting serious consideration.
Notre Dame — 7
Notre Dame also boasts a rich history with an impressive total of seven Heisman victories. However, the Irish are the only team tied for the most awards who have experienced a recent drought.
The Fighting Irish’s Heisman lineage began in 1943 with Angelo Bertelli, followed by John Lujack in 1947, Leon Hart in 1949, John Lattner in 1953, Paul Hornung in 1956, John Huarte in 1964, and most recently, Tim Brown in 1987.
The Irish came extremely close to an eighth graduate winning in 1990; however, wide receiver Raghib Ismail was just edged out by BYU quarterback Ty Detmer in one of the closest final votes in history.
While these four schools have seen seven award winners throughout its history, Alabama has had the most recent success. All four of their Heisman winners have come since 2009–Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, DeVonta Smith, and Bryce Young. After Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Army all have had three winners.
With the Fanduel Heisman odds already out for the season, it’s only a matter of time before we see another legendary player etch their name into the annals of Heisman history. Who will be the next player to join this elite group? Stay tuned to find out.